Thursday 23 November 2017

Seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong hits out at doping charges

Under a cloud: Lance Armstrong faces new doping allegations. Photo: AP
Under a cloud: Lance Armstrong faces new doping allegations. Photo: AP

Brendan Gallagher

LANCE Armstrong has again protested his innocence of doping after the Unites States Doping Agency (USADA) formally charged him on Tuesday in a fifteen page letter to the seven time former Tour de France winner.

Armstong confirmed on Twitter last night that he had received the letter - which alleges doping involving EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and masking agent activities between 1998 and 2011. Until he answers the charges he must discontinue his comeback as a Triathlete

USADA has contined to investigate Armstong despite the fact that the US Attonrey's Office decided against bringing charges against the Texan in February when they ended a two year investigation into allegations into the misuse of Federal funds for doping by Armstrong and the US Postal team.

It is believed, however, that much of the anecdotal evidence and accusations gathered from that investiagation, including that of disgraced drug cheats Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, was passed on to USADA although the "evidence" was considered unreliable in a court of law.

The USADA investigators have continued to take evidence from other former colleagues and associates and alleges it collected blood smaples form Armstong in 2009 and 2010 - his comeback years in the Tour de France after he retired in 2005 - that were "fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions." Despite constant testing throughout this period Armstrong has never supplied a positive test with USADA or anybody else.

The letter also implicates Armstrong's former Director sportif Johan Bruyneel and Italian doctore Michele Ferrari and claims that the "the witness to the conduct described in this letter includes more than ten cyclists."

Armstong remained admant that he was innocent of any such charges and, as one of the most tested athletes in history pointed to his record. In a statement last night he also queeried why he alone has been charged despite other riders, giving evidence, apparently admitting their own use of drugs while riding for him as a colleague.

"USADA intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years. I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one.

"These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and piad for by prmoises of anonymity and immunity.

"That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and chrages me instead of admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fiar consideration of these allegation has and will continue to vindicate me."

USADA - a quasi government agency that oversees anti-doping within Olympics sports in the USA - doesn't have the authority to bring criminal charges it can, if irrefutable evidence is supplies, suspend a competitor and in extreme cases rescind awards so if the charges that have laid result in a formal hearing and finding of guilt Armnstong could potentially be stripped of his Tour de France titles.

Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA, said: “In response to numerous inquiries regarding the public statements made by Mr. Lance Armstrong, we can confirm that written notice of allegations of anti-doping rule violations was sent yesterday to him and to five additional individuals all formerly associated with the United States Postal Service (USPS) professional cycling team. These individuals include three team doctors and two team officials. This formal notice letter is the first step in the multi-step legal process for alleged sport anti-doping rule violations.

"USADA only initiates matters supported by the evidence. We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence. Our duty on behalf of clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport is to fairly and thoroughly evaluate all the evidence available and when there is credible evidence of doping, take action under the established rules.

"As in every USADA case, all named individuals are presumed innocent of the allegations unless and until proven otherwise through the established legal process. If a hearing is ultimately held then it is an independent panel of arbitrators, not USADA that determines whether or not these individuals have committed anti-doping rule violations as alleged.

"At this time USADA will not comment on the evidence or have further comment unless or until it is appropriate.”

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